Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger commented on the recent play of Giants Safety Landon Collins:
Since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, the franchise has produced two AP Defensive Players of the Year: James Harrison (2008) and Troy Polamalu (2010). So the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback knows one when he sees one.
He was reminded of them this week when he turned on the film to study the New York Giants and No. 21 flashed across the screen.
"Yeah, I think that Landon [Collins] is maybe the defensive player of the year," Roethlisberger said Wednesday on a conference call.
"The way that he is playing football right now is awesome – interceptions, sacks, tackles, PBUs [pass breakups], all of those things. He is a guy that is a force to be reckoned with, especially as a second-year guy. That is awesome and a compliment to him and his work and the way that he makes things happen in that secondary."
Collins got word of those comments after practice.
"That's an honor," the safety said. "To hear that from a two-time Super Bowl champion is an honor. This is my second year and I'm making a good amount of plays. You definitely recognize that, but I'm just taking it week-by-week and game-by-game. Just keep working hard to become the player that I am."
Should Collins go on to win the ultimate individual award on defense, he would be the first Giant to do so since Michael Strahan in 2001, the year the Pro Football Hall of Famer set the single-season record with 22.5 sacks. Lawrence Taylor, another gold jacket wearer, is the only other player in franchise history to earn the award, winning it in 1981, 1982 and 1986.
Collins, who leads the team in tackles (87) and interceptions (five) to go along with three sacks, is well on his way. Earlier in the season, the Alabama product became the first safety to win player of the week awards in consecutive games since Polamalu in 2010.
He'll need another big game if the Giants want to bring down Big Ben this Sunday and win their seventh consecutive game.
"I've been watching [Roethlisberger] since I was a kid," Collins said. "I was always saying, 'How do you miss a sack on him?' Well, he's really strong and big. He's tough. If he keeps that arm loose like he always does, he always hits his guys no matter what. You could be on his ankle and he could still make a throw out of the pocket down field."
A look at the expected starters for the Giants' Week 13 opponent